Feed the birds during lockdown

Lockdown can teach families the simple pleasures of life

With South Africa under strict lockdown for COVID-19 and our shopping malls and restaurants, as well as open spaces like parks and playgrounds strictly out of bounds, our country has become eerily quiet. Early in the mornings, instead of the steady drone of traffic on our roads, all that can be heard are the sounds of ‘mother nature’ and especially the lovely sound of bird song.

Birds have adapted to city life and have become real ‘city slickers’ nesting and mating in any spaces available to them in our concrete jungles. Outdoor restaurants and the car parks of our shopping malls are favourite haunts of these little creatures where they nest and thrive on the crumbs of food we leave behind.

Even meat-eating birds like robin’s which dig in the soil for earthworms have adapted to stealing the cat’s or dog’s food outside, or if they are cheeky enough, right out of the bowl on your kitchen floor. Many birds like robins will readily take this novel substitute for earthworms and feed it to their chicks. The texture of tinned meaty chunks is perfect as it avoids hard lumps that can cause birds to choke.

Recycle bird feeder bottle Image by Sandra Petersen from PixabayRecycle bird feeder bottle Image by Sandra Petersen from PixabayLockdown has made food scarce for birds, so please put out some fruit, leftover rice, pap, or even stale bread - they will appreciate it so much. Sunflower seeds, mild grated cheese, and of course bird seed will also quickly be snatched up. Water will attract them too, so put out fresh water daily, even a shallow bowl on a small balcony will help.

Trying times like these can teach us the joy of sharing the simple pleasures of life, and a simple task like feeding the birds can become a fun family affair - have a competition to see who can identify the most birds, or who can take the best pictures of them feeding in your garden. Or, see who can build the best bird feeder from recycled materials like cold drink bottles etc. Children and especially the younger ones will love learning about birds, and this will spark a love of wildlife which can last a lifetime.

Birds give us so much pleasure, just imagine what our cities and gardens be like without their beautiful songs, so let’s give mother nature a helping hand at this time - all it takes is a couple of minutes a day.